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How "The Parable Of The Bags Of Gold" Can Help You Improve Upon Your Talents


Do you practice to improve your skills? Do you work on getting better at things you enjoy? Asked yet another way, do you invest in your talents?

We're all good at something. This isn't to say that we're fantastic at that thing, just that we've got a knack for it.

Usually, it seems, we enjoy doing things we're good at, and we're good at things we enjoy doing.

So why not do more of those things, provided they're beneficial to us, and the people around us?

What Are You Good At?


Are you good at whittling wood? (If so, I'm a little jealous.) Do you have a knack for gardening? Are you a talented baker? Is there something you do at least okay and you enjoy doing?

Again, given that it's a positive thing, why not invest time and energy into it?

If it improves your life in some small way and may help someone else, or at the very least can bring a little joy to someone else's life, shouldn't you do more of it? Shouldn't you practice it? Shouldn't you get better at it?

These are the questions I'm asking myself right now.

Are You Getting Better?


To take this further, isn't improving upon your talents also your responsibility?

If you are the steward of the body that God has given you, and God has planted within you a seed of talent, aren't you responsible for being the best you can be at that thing?

That doesn't mean the best. Instead, the best you can be.

And in this way, aren't you being a proper steward of what God has given you? Aren't you living as God would have it?

Again, these are the questions I'm asking myself.

God Plants Seeds Of Talent In Each Of Us


I've got a knack for playing music and teaching other people how to play what I play.

That certainly does not mean I'm better than you at those things. Only that I like doing them, am good at them, and they occasionally seem to help other people.

Or at least they give someone else a moment of joy, too.

With music, my experience is that I require hours upon hours of practice to get good at playing something, mostly on cigar box guitars.

And I certainly am not going to teach someone how to play a song without being good at playing it myself.

God has planted a tiny seed of musical talent in me, and I think it's incumbent upon me to develop that talent into a skill and to pass that onto someone else.

So, I have to invest a great deal of time and energy into any talent God has given me.

That shouldn't be a problem, right?

Shouldn't We Invest In Those Talents?


Because I enjoy playing music, I'm happy to practice. I like the work.

Putting in the work makes me better at playing.

Improved playing makes me better equipped to teach.

In turn, getting good at something I like makes me like it even more.

And I think putting those skills to use, investing in those talents, allows me to honor God; to glorify God; to live as God would have it.

The questions posed above that I've been asking myself are prompted by The Parable of the Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30.

The version of this parable posted below is taken from the New International Version (NIV) bible.

The Parable Of The Bags Of Gold


14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.

15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.

17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.

18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.

25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.

29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

What Does It Mean?


As far as I can tell, this is the message in the parable: God wants us to invest in the talents He's given us.

The master in this story is God. The three servants are you, me, or any of God's children.

God has given each of us a number of talents, however few or many.

And God doesn't want us to hide those gifts.

God doesn't want us to fear what he's given to each of us.

God wants us to invest in those talents, and in so doing, we live as God wills.

Do You Fear Failure?


For too long, I have lived as the third servant, the man who in verse 24 said he knew God's mind; that God doesn't do anything without reason.

Much like that third servant, out of fear of failure, I have hidden the gifts God has given me.

But if God has planted in me a seed of talent, why am I not cultivating it to be the best I can be, thereby honoring Him?

For me, I think my excuse (some may call it a sin) is that I'm afraid to fail at playing music and afraid to fail at teaching someone else how to play it, too.

The sad truth is that I have no shortage of self-limiting beliefs that discourage me from investing in myself.

How To Overcome That Fear


Therefore, by reading parables such as one of the bags of gold from the book of Matthew, I learn it's my responsibility to invest in what God has given me. I learn to be the best steward I can be of his gifts.

That idea - that truth - reminds me of something I read in a blog post titled Believe In You and Your “Weird” Ideas, written by Pastor Dave Weiss. In it, Weiss wrote, "... create something that means something to you and then believe in it enough to do the work."

My takeaway from that quote and the post from which it came is that it's our duty to create something meaningful that glorifies God.

This is true even in the face of criticism. Even if we fear the failure of being "bad" at using our gifts enough before we are "good."

And this leads me to quote musician and pastor Glenn Kaiser from a blog post he wrote titled, CRAZY Art/Artists.

Regarding the act of creating, of investing in your God-given talents, Kaiser wrote, "Leave the results with Him and don’t expect everyone to love you or your offerings. Love God and others WITH your offerings." (Emphasis has been placed on the last sentence by me.)

Conclusion


I can't help but think that Kaiser is right: how we can love God and others is with our offerings. And we can offer that which God has given us. And that it's our responsibility to invest in God's gifts.

What is a talent that God has given you? Have you invested in it today?


Comments

  1. Hey Glenn, what if a person has more than one passion, but not enough time? Paul

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    Replies
    1. What a good question, Paul. There are people much smarter than me who likely have some good thoughts to share in response. But how 'bout this...

      Pick one; the one that resonates the deepest with you right now. Then, pour yourself into that thing. If that passion honors God, if it enriches your life and the lives of others, why not make that one your priority? As you know, life changes as do the ways we explore the things that brighten our lives. Perhaps in the future, your focus will shift to another passion. But for now, making the most of one may be more beneficial than juggling multiple interests, none of which get your full attention.

      It's hard to say, isn't it? I mean, I also have more than one passion and struggle to make time for all of them. But for me, the key here is that idea of "making time." I can only carve out so much time for these things: martial arts, writing, playing guitar, being present in the lives of family and friends, being a loving partner to my lady... To me, they're all worthy endeavors that enrich my life and in turn may help, if indirectly, brighten someone else's day, too. But the one passion I have that feels like it has the biggest, positive impact, and in practicing it feels like it glorifies God, is learning and sharing bits of music for others to learn and enjoy.

      What do you think, Paul? Without eliminating all other passions, what's the one that, right now, lights you up the most?

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